Letter: Western failure as Mostar burns

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The Independent Online
Sir: Western politicians and observers who feel 'cheated' by Russia's diplomatic coup over Sarajevo need not despair. At Mostar, an ideal all-Western opportunity awaits Germany and the United States, whose local favourites - Croats and Muslims respectively - have reportedly visited a tenfold destruction on the city compared with that suffered by the Bosnian capital.

Mostar sits astride the main humanitarian aid artery linking the Adriatic to central Bosnia, and has been designated for transitional international control, pending final settlement. It also has the 'advantage' of having been 'cleansed' of its 30,000 Serbian inhabitants, whose presence might have complicated any Western initiative, so there is no reason for Russian involvement.

Apart from their leading roles in the EU and Nato, Germany and the US were leading advocates of a Bosnian state based solely on an anti-Serb Muslim/Croatian alliance. How realistic their assessment has been is best exemplified by the fact that the vast majority of UN soldiers and aid workers have lost their lives in the fighting between independent Bosnia's two designated co-founders.

Why has so little been done to bring peace to the Muslim/Croatian parts of Bosnia? It is noticeable that German and US spokesmen have steered clear of Mostar, raising instead the comparative red herrings of Tuzla airport and Srebrenica. Do they feel constrained solely to actions where their all-purpose Serbian scapegoat is around?

It is clear that neither Western power has contributed competence or impartiality to a conflict whose fires they have helped to stoke. It is the British who - thanks to professional UN peace-keeping on the ground, coupled with a relative non-involvement policy - can call upon Germans, Americans and now Russians to bring their proteges into place for a final settlement: one hopefully based on the legitimate aspirations of Bosnia's three national groups rather than poorly articulated interests of discredited international institutions and their leading members.

Yours sincerely,


Teddington, Middlesex

22 February